Further Python reviews of FOIL data reveal NYCHA's lead-related service requests by housing development, borough

By LOUIS FLORES

Further analysis of a CSV file produced by the New York City Housing Authority to Progress Queens in response to a request made under the State's Freedom of Information Law has revealed the geographic distribution of lead-related service requests made by tenants.

This analysis, made possible through the use of a specifically-programmed module created by the publisher of Progress Queens and publicly available on GitHub, revealed that NYCHA's public housing developments located in Brooklyn were the location of the most number of lead-related service requests made by tenants for the period of time covered by the data contained in the CSV file. This calculation was based on the use of a lookup table manually created by the publisher of Progress Queens.

A total of 957 lead-related service requests, representing 79 per cent. of the total number of City-wide lead-related service requests, were traced back to NYCHA's public housing developments in Brooklyn.

The percentage distribution was calculated, in part, by also using custom commands entered into a Python interpreter to evaluate the CSV file provided by NYCHA and the manual lookup table.

Because the percentage distribution of lead-related service requests (79%) that were traced back to Brooklyn represented a rate that was more than twice the overall percentage distribution for all service requests in Brooklyn (34%), the skewed percentage distribution may indicate that NYCHA's data may be incomplete.

The press office for NYCHA did not answer a request made by Progress Queens to interview NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye.

For months, Progress Queens had been requesting from NYCHA information to be able to be able to decipher the use of codes used in the CSV file that represented the names or locations of NYCHA's public housing developments, but NYCHA refused to supply that information, forcing the publisher of Progress Queens to spend an enormous amount of time to decipher the location codes using publicly-available information.

Brooklyn is ground zero for lead-related service requests amongst NYCHA's public housing developments, according to NYCHA data

One public housing development, the Lafayette Houses in Brooklyn, was the site of the most number of lead-related service requests. Tenants in the Lafayette Houses reported service requests that NYCHA expressly labeled to be lead-related 369 times for the period of time covered by the data contained in the CSV file, representing an incidence rate of more than seven times than that observed at the Smith Houses, a public housing development in Manhattan with the most number of lead-related service requests for that borough.

Not only was Brooklyn the location of the NYCHA public housing development with the most lead-related service requests, but Brooklyn was also the site of the overall top five NYCHA public housing developments with the most number of lead-related service requests, City-wide.

After the Lafayette Houses, the next four, top-ranking public housing developments in Brooklyn with the most City-wide number of lead-related service requests were :  the Farragut Houses, the Cypress Hills Houses, the Ingersoll Houses, and Peter Stuyvesant Gardens I.

In a series of reports filed by journalist Greg Smith for The New York Daily News, the presence of lead paint at NYCHA's public housing developments have been being examined. For one such report, Mr. Smith noted that, according to a separate set of testing data in the possession of NYCHA but not produced to Progress Queens in response to the FOIL request, the Red Hook East Houses in Brooklyn is the location of the most number of apartments known to contain lead paint.

As noted in an editorial published by Progress Queens, NYCHA has estimated that approximately 55,000 public housing development apartments contain lead paint. However, as noted by Mr. Smith in one of the reports he filed for The New York Daily News, NYCHA will reportedly not disclose the location of those apartments for privacy reasons. In its editorial, Progress Queens blasted NYCHA's claim of privacy as outrageous, because NYCHA disclosed to Progress Queens the location of public housing development apartments, which tested positive for lead in drinking water without claiming any privacy exemption.

The exposure to lead and the risk of exposure to lead of NYCHA's tenants are reportedly the subject of a Federal investigation by the career prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's southern district. The press office for the Federal prosecutors refused to answer advance questions submitted by Progress Queens for this report, including a request to interview one of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys involved in the reported NYCHA investigation.

Offer to test children for lead

In response to a radio interview given by the publisher of Progress Queens to WBAI 99.5 FM about the series of reports published about NYCHA, a physician has contacted the publisher of Progress Queens to offer to read medical tests of children living in NYCHA's public housing developments, where excessive levels of lead have been detected in drinking water. The physician has proposed contacting a medical company that carries out testing for lead to undertake current measurements to determine whether lead is poisoning the bodies of children living in NYCHA's public housing developments. Such a proposal can only be carried out if a nonprofit advocacy group could underwrite any costs of such testing, and if a willing nonprofit advocacy group would be willing to work with the physician to manage the testing process. The test results would be read and interpreted by the physician, and Progress Queens intends to publish the outcome of any information derived from the testing.

If anybody is interested in helping to underwrite and manage an independent testing effort, please contact the publisher of Progress Queens by e-mail at :  louis (dot) flores (at) progressqueens (dot) com.

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A note about the lookup table

Despite requests made by Progress Queens, NYCHA never provided a lookup table that would cross-reference the codes used for the location of the service requests in the CSV file of the maintenance database. There were two possible fields that could have been used to cross-reference the location of the NYCHA public housing apartments that were the subject of the service requests : 'UNIT_ID' and 'LOCATION_ID.' Both of the fields contained data that appeared to be codes, sometimes numeric, sometimes alphanumeric, to represent NYCHA's public housing developments. In both cases, none of the location codes appeared to be shorthand or abbreviations for the names or locations of NYCHA's housing developments.

It took several trial and error attempts and multiple Google searches using partial codes extracted from each of the two fields before the publisher of Progress Queens determined that the first three digits appearing in the 'LOCATION_ID' field of the CSV file corresponded with a 'TDS' code used by NYCHA to identify its public housing developments. The TDS codes can be found on NYCHA's Property Directory - Development Guide report.

Because this information appeared in a .PDF document and because the publisher of Progress Queens is still new to using the Python programming language, the publisher of Progress Queens had to manually create a lookup table, extracting the TDS code for each of NYCHA's public housing developments and inputting that information into a new spreadsheet that would serve as the lookup table.

A few formatting adjustments had to be made within the Python module to account for the use of leading zeros in some of the TDS codes and to conform the key field in the lookup table to match the formatting of the corresponding TDS field in the CSV file.